The US House of Representatives is expected to pass an amendment to the Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 by this weekend that would cut millions of dollars in funding to Planned Parenthood for contraceptives, reproductive health counseling and cancer screenings.
The amendment eliminates all $327 million in funding for Title X, a family planning program that began 40 years ago under President Richard Nixon. And while Planned Parenthood receives millions of dollars from the program, Title X funds cannot be used for abortion services.
The money is to be used for noncontroversial family planning services, mostly for low-income families.
“I am aware that Title X family planning funds are eliminated in this bill, but eliminating Title X funding has never been my goal,” Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), who offered the amendment, said on the House floor Thursday.
“I support the important work of Title X clinics across the country that provide breast cancer screenings, HIV testing, counseling, and other valuable family planning services.”
“My focus has and will remain on denying taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood or any organization that provides or promotes abortion as a means of birth control,” he added.
The amendment is attached to a bill that is needed to fund the government for the rest of the current fiscal year and considered “must pass” legislation.
“Congress should use the continuing resolution to create jobs, not to further the extreme assault on women’s reproductive rights by eliminating the cost-effective family planning program,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) said.
The abortion rights group NARAL said the legislation would lead to more unwanted pregnancies by cutting funding for contraceptives.
“The new anti-choice House leadership now wants to take away birth control and cancer screenings from millions of American women and men,” Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL, said. “While these politicians attack abortion coverage from every angle, they now want to deny funding for birth control, even though that’s the best way to prevent unintended pregnancy. Americans will not stand for this blatant hypocrisy.”
During the debate on the House floor Thursday, a number of Republicans made reference to a video recently produced by Live Action, an anti-abortion group run by 22-year-old Lila Rose.
The video accused Planned Parenthood of aiding in the sex trafficking of minors, even though its undercover sting had already been uncovered by the family planning organization.
The video “proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Planned Parenthood intentionally breaks state and federal laws and covers up the abuse of the young girls it claims to serve,” Live Action’s Rose said in a statement.
Republicans have introduced numerous bills in the House and Senate aimed at reducing women’s right to reproductive health services or eliminating access to abortions altogether.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MI) proposed legislation in January to recognize that life begins at the moment of conception and is entitled to legal protection from that point forward. The bill, known as “The Life at Conception Act,” seeks to terminate the protections for abortion created by the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, introduced another bill in the House of Representatives that would limit access to abortions by expanding federal restrictions on abortion funding.
The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which was given the designation HR 3, would impose a prohibition on all federal spending for abortion care, deny federal subsidies to private health insurance plans that cover abortions, and impose tax penalties on those who pay for abortion care. It would greatly expand the restrictions on federal funding for abortion created by the Hyde Amendment, which was passed by Congress in 1976.
With prior reporting by Sahil Kapur.